Since it is International Typewriter Day, it seems fitting to share with you a project that I have in the works...
A richly illustrated book full of never-before published typewriter memorabilia, intriguing historical documents and entertaining anecdotes, The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine is a beautiful ode to an all but obsolete creative companion.
It is an ambitious 224-page hardcover book which I hope to fund through Kickstarter next month. The concept for the book is one I have been refining for many years and I can't wait to share more about it with you. In the next few weeks, I'll be shooting and editing a video in preparation for the project launch on Kickstarter.
If you're not already signed up for the UPPERCASE e-newsletter, please do that here and you'll be informed when the Kickstarter project goes live. If you'd like to help spread the word about The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine, please drop me a line! The success of a Kickstarter campaign relies not only on the strength of the project concept, but also the support it gets through social media so your help is very much appreciated.
Top two cakes by Petit Trianon made in honour of The Regional Assembly of Text's 3rd and 4th anniversaries. The bottom cake is by Debbie Ross Cakes.
June 23 marks the 144th anniversary of the date Christopher Latham Sholes received a U.S. patent on the typewriter. It's International Typewriter Day, so grab your portable and type something! And if you have lots of time and patience... bake a cake!
Gingerbread typewriter by Susanna Blåvarg via Baked Ideas.
An authentic typewriter cake made in 1967.
Readers of this blog and UPPERCASE magazine will know that I have a passion for typewriters. In honour of International Typewriter Day, I invite you to peruse my past typewriter posts.
In late March, Kasey and Nick from Evernote came to Calgary to shoot a video about how I use Evernote to run UPPERCASE magazine. If you're not familiar with the service, Evernote's slogan "Remember everything" sums it up. With online, desktop and mobile access, you can create and categorize notes. Anything that you want quick and easy access to, from receipts to saved web images to writing to lists to audio notes, you can save to Evernote. There's a detailed post on their blog about how I use the service. The tool has been invaluable to me (I've been using it since issue #2) and I urge you to give it a try. It's free, though I use the premium version for increased storage and other useful features.
A few notes about the video:
0:03 My necklace is by Urban Legend. We're featuring jeweller Kateri Morton in issue #15.
card by Nancy & BettyNancy & Betty Studio is the name of the stationery company created by Hannah Bidmead. Named after her grandmother Betty and her twin sister, Hannah's studio is based in Canterbury,England. "Inspiration also comes form the simple and often quirky things, involving subjects such as typewriters and Polaroid cameras—beautiful, functional objects. We like simple graphics and strong colours, with a nod to retro themes," writes Hannah. With typewriters as graphic inspiration, deco tape and fun visual puns, Nancy & Betty is right up UPPERCASE's alley!
I've got lots of chalk markers leftover from the Alt party (check out the video)—let's decorate the windows of UPPERCASE and have our own doodle party. I have chocolate cookies to share, too. And if you want to typewrite a Valentine to your sweetie, my typewriters will be available to serve you.
UPPERCASE will be open from 3pm to 8:30pm this Thursday.
A few weeks ago, I was asked to contribute to a post on eBay's online magazine, The Inside Source. As an avid eBayer (it lit fire to my typewriter addiction), I was happy to oblige. They wanted a handmade Christmas card idea, so I wanted to combine my typewriters, typography and something easy to make.
an UPPERCASE typographic ornament
Here's a simple project for a greeting card that transforms into a tree ornament. Cut out a circle or other shape of your choosing so that it is slightly smaller than your folded card stock. Decorate the paper ornament with cut-up Christmas cards from years past, old wrapping paper or other pretty paper. I've used a page from a discarded dictionary.
I decided to play on the idea of a "typographic ornament" by cutting out an uppercase initial for each recipient.
(Quick tip for perfectionists in a hurry: print out letters at the desired size from your printer, lay the printed letter on top of your decorative paper and simply cut around the letter, through both layers at one time.)
To attach the finished ornament to the greeting card, position the ornament on the card and use a small hole punch to pierce through the top of the ornament and right through the card. Make a loop out of pretty twine or ribbon and thread it through the holes, from the inside of the card outward. As long as the knot on the back of the loop is larger than the hole, everything will be held in place securely. Decorate the card with a typewritten or handwritten greeting and there you go! (I love to use my vintage typewriters—it is fun to type out a line of text the old fashioned way.)
Chris from Seattle shares pictures of his typewriter tin collection, displayed with magnets. As most collectors can attest, he started with just one!
"I bought a ribbon tin (unknowingly) several years ago with my daughters at an impromptu "garage" sale underneath Pike Place Market in Seattle. Loved it. Looked it up (big mistake). Found them on eBay (of course), but became enthralled after seeing your flickr collection (beautiful)."
Cards and wrapping paper from Nancy & Betty Studio By now everyone is well aware of my fondness for typewriters! Thanks to Hannah for introducing me to her company, Nancy & Betty Studio.
"Nancy & Betty Studio is a small stationery design brand, created by Hannah Bidmead. After studying Fine Art (BA) Hons, Nancy & Betty Studio was created and is now based in our studio in Canterbury, England. Inspiration also comes form the simple and often quirky things, involving subjects such as typewriters and Polaroid cameras – beautiful, functional objects. We like simple graphics and strong colours, with a nod to retro themes."
I'm on the hunt for typewriter-related papers, packages, photos and memorabilia! Above is a recent purchase from Agent Obsolete. Check out their Etsy shop for more retro finds. If you have any good leads or have your own collection of typewriter things you'd like to share, please let me know!
The IBM Selectric became an instant sensation upon its debut on July 31, 1961, and remained the typewriter found on most office desks until the brand was retired 25 years later, in 1986. With 2,800 parts, many designed from scratch, it was a major undertaking even for IBM, which had been in the typewriter business since the 1930s and was already a market leader. The Selectric marked a radical change from previous typewriter designs, and it took IBM seven years to work out the manufacturing and design challenges before it went on sale.
The Selectric typewriter was a game-changer in many ways:
Its unique "golf ball" head allowed typists' fingers to fly across the keyboard at unprecedented speed. An expert typist could clock 90 words per minute versus 50 with a traditional electric typewriter.
The golf ball moved across the page, making it the first typewriter to eliminate carriage return and reducing its footprint on office desks.
Interchangeable golf balls equipped with different fonts, italics, scientific notations and other languages could easily be swapped in.
With magnetic tape for storing characters added in 1964, the Selectric became the first (albeit analog) word-processor device.
The Selectric also formed the basis for early computer terminals and paved the way for keyboards to emerge as the primary way for people to interact with computers, as opposed to pressing buttons or levers. A modified Selectric could be plugged into IBM's System/360 computer, enabling engineers and researchers to interact with their computers in new ways.
"The Selectric typewriter, from its design to its functionality, was an innovation leader for its time and revolutionized the way people recorded information," said Linda Sanford, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Transformation, IBM, who was a development engineer on the Selectric. "Nearly two decades before computers were introduced, the Selectric laid the foundation for word-processing applications that boosted efficiency and productivity, and it inspired many user-friendly features in computers that we take for granted today."
Here's a silly commercial from the 80s. I'm pretty sure it was considered silly even back then!
Here are other posts about the Selectric on Mad Men and in Fringe.
16 Sparrows is a delight for those infatuated with mail art, letter-writing, stationery and the lost art of typewriting. (Annie, I think that's you!)
From their website: "Who are you and how did this all start? 16 Sparrows sprouted from an observation that there were no greeting cards for sarcastic, quirky folks. So Kathy began making her own and after my paper goods out numbered friends and family, she knew something had to be done. With the encouragement of two close friends; Milly & Ilya, Kathy opened up shop. (This is the clean up version of what happened. If you ask Milly or Ilya, the birth of 16 Sparrows occurred in a bar over a table covered in empty beer bottles.)In 2006 Miss Donovan joined Kathy and 16 Sparrows became a partnership. Thanks to her, 16 Sparrows has expanded its product base and has gone on to have great success at craft fairs & retail stores. Donovan and Kathy both share an interest in smart-ass pretty things, which is a commonality that has made their partnership a success."
Donovan, Kathy and Annie are friends with the co-author of the amazing book Good Mail Day, so I had the chance to meet Carolee Gilligan Wheeler, whose mail art we included in a previous issue. There was a VERY happy moment when Carolee gave Annie a typewriter! Check it out on Annie's blog, Curbside Treasures.
"In my series disassembly, I have used old items that are no longer used by the masses and often found on the street curbs heading for disposal. All of the items in the photographs were in working order. The interesting part was the fact that they were all so well built, and the parts were most likely put together by hand. I envisioned all the enjoyment these pieces had given many people for many years, all to be replaced by new technology that will be rapidly replaced with half the use." Read more here.